Mission: school - Page 2

Alicia McCarthy turns her studies into art

She achieves a lo-fi and distinctly low-key — some might say junior high Trapper Keeper — version of the hallucinatory effect achieved when one gazes too long, and thus long enough, at the waves of lines in Bridget Riley's famous 1964 polymer–on–composition board piece Current.

The upfront or subliminal presence of Riley-like op art — and color theory — elements within work by some of the main female artists associated with the Mission School is worth noting in light of the enjoyable pair of May Artforum essays that single Riley out for praise while suggesting that op art has been absent, aside from pure kitsch manifestations, since its '60s heyday. In fact, a case could be made that artists such as McCarthy and Jane have knowingly or unknowingly taken up some of Riley's practice in modest ways, adapting it as one aspect within their own work. Kitsch has nothing to do with it, but feminism and a shared creative sensibility might.

Among the work by developing artists at the UC Berkeley MFA show (Jenifer K. Wofford's impressive graphic novel–like wall of paintings; Ali Dadgar's screen prints on stones), McCarthy's section doesn't call out for attention so much as reward those who are present enough to pay it, and in that sense, her closest kin within the exhibition is probably Bill Jenkins, whose contributions confront the blindness of an average seven-seconds-a-piece stroll through a museum. Like McCarthy's chair, they suggest that the world needs heightened perception more than it needs another dazzling, hi-fi, expensive work of art. *


Through Sun/10

Wed. and Fri.–Sun., 11 a.m.–5 p.m.; Thurs., 11 a.m.–7 p.m.; $4–$8 (free first Thurs.)

Berkeley Art Museum

2626 Bancroft Way, Berk.

(510) 642-0808


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